Project 02: Surface Sequences

January 16, 2013


This project continues an investigation of the relationship between structure and ground with ordinary geometric forms and seemingly simple operations and constraints. However, in this project you will be introduced to new constraints defined both by a given topography and given program. Topography in this project is defined as the existing features of the given site. In architectural vocabulary, the word program can be roughly defined as “what happens in a space.”

The project address two different scales. On one hand, the game of minigolf itself requires millimeter precision where the placement and size of the hole is critical to the design of the single hole.1 However, the game is not contained to a single hole and must be extended into a larger site. The design of a topography is often seen at the scale of hundreds of meters, with the manipulation of large areas of terrain. Due to this disparity in scale, the project will be divided into two parts.

The first part will address the small scale of the putting surface itself, in the design of a single hole.
The second part of the project will address a large site and program.

You will be challenged to develop a nine hole minigolf course in this topography, along with supporting auxiliary programs. The focus of this project is not to develop a new program, but to develop and deploy a series of operations on the topography that determine the performance of the programmatic sequences. Absolute importance is placed upon the choreography of sequences while playing the nine hole course.

Aside from the physical performance of the game itself, the project must seek to construct a narrative through the sequence. This narrative must form a relationship between the site and the proposed program — performance of minigolf in terms of technique and trajectory. All aspects of the proposal must reinforce the thesis that is embedded in this narrative sequence, while producing a functional minigolf experience.


The objectives of this project are to develop an understanding of the relationship between site and a program – as an extension from the formal operations of the first project of the semester. The construction of a narrative – as thesis – that engages both the site and the program.

The analysis and design of a topography for the specific performance at the micro-scale of the ball moving across a surface and the macro-scale of topography, the relationship between sites and structures, and the sequence of a human moving through a landscape.

Download project brief as .pdf file.

Hole in One!


In the first part of the project you will be working at at the scale of a part – the single minigolf hole. By working at the scale of the single minigolf hole you will gain an intimate knowledge of the performance of a topography relative to the movement and of a golf ball. In this part of the project you will be working in teams of two to design, realize, and test the one to one scale design.


The game that we now call “minigolf” was established early in the 20th century as a series of small scale geometric golf courses made from artificial materials. While the origin of the game is distinctly Western European in origin, the development, popularity, and global spread of what we now know as minigolf should be attributed to a uniquely American preoccupation. Minigolf developed at a rapid pace with wild variations in design in the 1920‘s to the 1930’s. In the 1940’s minigolf declined in its popularity with the American public, but made a resurgence in the 1950s in the postwar “leisure” period of suburban America. Today courses can be found around the world: in shopping malls, university campuses, rural landscapes, on prime seaside properties, on cruise ships, battle ships, and beyond.

While the technology (putter and ball) and history may be a derivative of the larger scale game of golf, minigolf has evolved as a game entirely of its own construction. Despite its young age, the game has evolved a rich set of formal types and narratives compressed into a single collection of nine to eighteen holes — a course (of course!).


  • To design a one hole putting surface. Part to whole relationships (single whole to course).
  • Studies should focus on the topography and materiality of the putting surface.
  • All designs will be evaluated by playing the putting surface. The rolling golf ball propelled by a putter will determine the performance of the design.
  • Constraints

    1. Each putting surface must be a maximum of 3 meters x 1.25 meters x 30 cm in height.
    2. Designs should focus on the topography of the surface.
    3. Designs must include one and only one non-representational obstacle/facilitator in the course. This obstacle may be a maximum of 50 cm in height.
    4. Designs must be made from stipulated materials.
    5. Each design must have a single hole. The hole must be 120 mm in diameter.
    6. The design must be durable and transportable.
    7. Difficulty of the hole must be between par 1 and par 3.

    Sequential Surfaces

    In the second part of the project you are challenged to design a nine hole minigolf course in a given site. This exercise will require you to design both at the scale of the individual minigolf holes and the scale of a site. Along with the design of the sequence and topography, you will also be asked to incorporate auxiliary functional programs. The objective of this project is not to design a new program, but to design a sequence and focus on the manipulation of the ground.


    The site is located between a road on one side and small river on the other side. Running roughly through the middle of the site is a stream that feeds into a larger river. The site is diverse in terms of topographical conditions, from somewhat level areas of ground to steep rocky slopes that lead down to running water.

    There are many traces of past inhabitation and use on the site. Old-growth rubber trees, that were once part of a functioning plantation form a fragmented grid. Many of the trees have since been harvested for their wood. Along with the rubber trees there are also concrete columns that stand as remnants of past structures or abandoned construction projects.


    • 9 Holes: Each hole must have a clearly defined starting area, minimum of one obstruction or facilitator, place to mark score card, and one golf ball washing machine. For your reference the minimum dimensions of a typical hole of a course are approximately 1.5 meters x 8 meters. Each hole should vary in difficulty. In minigolf difficulty is measured by the estimated number of strokes or “par.” Each hole should be between par 2 and par 5.
    • Warmup/Practice Hole: Must be located before the first hole and near the rental area.
    • Area for Renting Equipment: Balls, putters, score cards, pencils, and towels. This area must be located in close proximity to the final hole of the course and must include the a way or device for the ball to be returned. Area must be able to be secured or “closed” when not in use. Maximum Size: 25 sq. meters.

    • Trophy Display Area: Maximum Size: 5 sq. meters.
    • Restrooms: Male and Female. Size: 10 sq. meters each.
    • Leisure Area: Area for group eating/team meetings. Maximum Size: 25 sq. meters.
    • Storage Area: For maintainence equipment: lawn mower, lawn roller, rake, hoses, grass seed, fertilizer, riding lawn mower. Maximum Size: 25 sq. meters.